Study suggests giving birth in hospitals safer than having baby at home

The New York Times reported that a new study of data “suggests that giving birth in a hospital is considerably safer than having a baby at home or in a birthing center.”

The paper noted that “researchers analyzed data collected by” the CDC “from 2006 to 2009 on almost 14 million births, including 130,000 non-hospital deliveries.” The results of the study appear online in The American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the paper added.

Over all, babies delivered by midwives at home had nearly four times the risk for death compared with those delivered by hospital-based midwives, with the risk highest if the birth was the woman’s first. With 25,000 home births per year in the United States, this means about 23 additional neonatal deaths annually.

Babies delivered by midwives in freestanding birthing centers had more than twice the risk for death compared with those delivered by midwives in hospitals.

Compared with midwife-attended births in hospitals, doctor-attended births had higher mortality, almost certainly because the most complicated births are generally handled by physicians.

When a birth was handled by others — policemen, taxi drivers and so on — the death rate was four times that of hospital births

The researchers write that these results almost certainly underestimate the actual neonatal death rates in home and birthing center deliveries, because infants with complications are often transferred to hospitals, and the C.D.C. counts any subsequent death as a hospital outcome

The lead author, Dr. Amos Grünebaum, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, strongly discourages giving birth at home.

“We need to make hospitals provide some of the amenities you have at home,” he said. “We need to make hospitals more like homes instead of making homes more like hospitals.”

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